Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield, surprisingly axed by Great Britain in the autumn, is planning to take out his frustrations on his Super League rivals.
Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield, surprisingly axed by Great Britain in the autumn, is planning to take out his frustrations on his Super League rivals. Sinfield, who will lead the Rhinos out at Hull on Friday night for the start of their title defence, was the main omission from Brian Noble's squad for last autumn's Tri-nations series. The 24-year-old Rhinos stand-off is no longer smarting from his international snub but he intends to use it as extra motivation this year. "I think you have got to take the positive out of negative things that happen to you," he said. "The positive from that would be to go out and have a cracking season and that's what I hope to do. "I don't think I've got a point to prove but I think I'll try to prove one any way and improve as a player and really take this club forward. "We set a platform last year and, hopefully we can build on that and keep getting better and better over the years and make Leeds Rhinos a well-known club worldwide." Leeds, of course, go into Friday's opener as world champions following their 39-32 victory over Canterbury Bulldogs and, with an average age of just 25, they look set for a period of sustained success. Their plethora of local talented youngsters, bolstered by a touch of overseas class, is reminiscent of the Wigan side that dominated the game in the late 1980s and early 90s but Sinfield is loathe to make comparisons. "I feel we've got the squad to push for trophies," he said. "I think the group is very well balanced. There are some people with massive experience and some with hardly any. It's a great blend. "The youngsters who have all come through the system have gelled very well and we can hopefully keep building on that. "What Wigan had will be very difficult to replicate. I don't know if it's possible to dominate the competition the way they did. We just want to get better." Meanwhile, Hull's former New Zealand international Stephen Kearney has warned the champions not to under-estimate their opening opponents. The veteran back-row forward, one of Hull's high-profile signings, will miss Friday's game with a chest injury but he is backing his new team-mates to come out on top in front of an anticipated 20,000 crowd at the KC Stadium. "It's a fantastic opportunity," Kearney said. "They will have the momentum that they built not only last year but also in the last week in becoming world champions. "But it's a great opportunity for us and we feel, if we can reach our objectives and goals, we give ourselves a big chance." The big challenge for the 32-year-old Kearney is to help Hull break the stranglehold of the so-called big four - Leeds, Bradford, Wigan and St Helens - but the Kiwi is confident his new club can ruffle a few feathers at the top of the table. "It's a fantastic club in the sense that they're very proud and very passionate," he said. "And, when you've got facilities like we have, it makes for a really good club. With the personnel we've got too, it makes things a lot easier. "They (the top four) rightly deserve to be up there. But our thoughts really are just on a few simple objectives and a few simple goals that we feel, if we go close to achieving in most matches, will give ourselves a good chance at the end of a game to get a positive result."